Nuggets players spotted wearing flip-flops during warm-ups before Game 4 loss to Lakers


When Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone went into his postgame press conference following a Game 4 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, he likely wasn’t thinking he’d talk about flip-flops. 

But after several Nuggets players were spotted during pregame warm-ups wearing just flip-flops and socks, that’s exactly what happened.

With the Nuggets up 3-0 in the series against Los Angeles, the general perception of players wearing flip-flops to warm up seemed to be that Denver was being nonchalant heading into the potential sweep situation.

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Michael Porter Jr.'s flip flops

Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets warms up in slides before the first half against the Lakers in Los Angeles on April 27, 2024. (AAron Ontiveroz/Denver Post)

However, a Nuggets spokesperson told ESPN that there was a mix-up with some players’ insoles in their shoes on the early bus to the arena, leading them to hit the court without their regular basketball sneakers on.

“I think the bus that the shoes got loaded onto was the last bus,” Nuggets starting forward Michael Porter Jr. said, per ESPN. “There was some confusion. So, all I had was slides. They said we could either skip our warm-up or go out there in slides. I kind of knew then that people would probably make a big deal out of it, but it was just because somebody forgot to put the shoes on the right bus.

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“It’s frustrating. Pregame routine is very important, but everyone makes mistakes. Everybody’s human, I’m not too mad.”

Denver has begun games in this first-round series slow, but they’ve been able to overcome deficits and come away with victories. 

Peyton Watson shoots

Peyton Watson of the Denver Nuggets warms up in slides before the first half against the Lakers in Los Angeles on April 27, 2024. (AAron Ontiveroz/Denver Post)

The reigning NBA champions, though, didn’t come close this time around as LeBron James & Co. kept their season alive with a 119-108 victory. 

“If you want to dig into stuff and say, well, we lost because, for some strange reason, our players didn’t have their shoes when they got here for their normal warm-ups, that we had guys out there shooting around with flip-flops, is it ideal? No,” Malone said. “But I’m not an excuse guy. And I’m not going to point to the reason we got our butts kicked in the paint because shoes weren’t here. I think that’s a reach, personally.”

The Nuggets have another chance to take down the Lakers and move on in the playoffs on Monday night at home in Denver. With a home game, Malone hopes the equipment mishap doesn’t occur.

Michael Porter Jr. warms up in flip flops

Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets warms up in slides before the first half against the Lakers in Los Angeles on April 27, 2024. (AAron Ontiveroz/Denver Post)

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“Hopefully we can figure that out and make sure it never happens again,” he said.

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